How to honour deceased loved ones on your wedding day
How to honour deceased loved ones on your wedding day
How to honour deceased loved ones on your wedding day
How to honour deceased loved ones on your wedding day

How to honour deceased loved ones on your wedding day

Photo: Fern & Stone Photography


While weddings typically focus on the joy to be had and the fun and excitement that goes into planning, it can also be challenging if you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one who you so wish could be there to witness this moment in your life.

Becoming married without that special someone present can be really difficult in what is already an emotional day. Coupled with traditions that may exacerbate your loss, or expectations of what the right thing is to do, and there’s no wonder many people are brought to feelings of overwhelm.

It’s important to note, there’s no right way or wrong way to honour a deceased loved one during your wedding day, it a completely personal choice and you will know what feels right for you. For some, it may feel too painful to acknowledge their loss and that’s okay. For others, you may wish to incorporate them somewhere in your day, but you’re not sure how.

We share some ways you can honour those missing loved ones on your wedding day.



Acknowledge their absence in your ceremony.

Often the loss of a loved  can feel like the elephant in the room, for you and potentially your guests, and there might be some fear around the emotions it could evoke. Many couples opt to have their celebrant or officiant acknowledge their deceased loved ones at the beginning of their ceremony when all guests are welcomed. It’s a beautiful way to acknowledge their absence but also allows for you to focus on the ceremony and celebrations ahead. Work with your celebrant on what they could say, they will also be able to provide advice.

Here’s a way your deceased loved one could be acknowledged;

“There is one very much-loved person who is sadly no longer with us and that is (name of deceased person/s). While not physically present with us we know that (name of deceased person/s) would be so happy that (couple’s names) have found such incredible happiness and love with each other and they are very much in our hearts and thoughts today.”


Photo: Elsa Campbell


Carry them with you.

A beautiful way to honour a loved one is to carry them with you, and this can happen in many ways. You could choose to have a photo of your special person in a locket on your bouquet, or carry a photo of them in your suit pocket. Perhaps they had an item of jewellery or cuff links that could be worn by yourself or your partner, or you could take a piece of their clothing and have it sewn into your dress, veil or suit. Think about some special items that could be carried with you on your day and get creative with how that looks and feels most right for you. In honour of her father, Mykyla had silver ferns placed throughout her veil to represent him – it was a touching piece she will treasure always.


Photo:Holii & Ash


Include a quote or reading.

If your loved one had a particular love of poems, quotes or readings you could have this incorporated into your ceremony. You might ask a family member or friend to read it, or have your celebrant or officiant do so. Quotes or readings need not be a bore, so if it’s a memorable movie that can be adapted to suit a light-hearted reflection, or a song that has lyrics that speak to you, you might ask your celebrant to weave into their script – this can be a low-key but loving way to share your feelings. If appropriate, the words chosen could also be at your table setting amongst your on-the-day stationery and can of course become part of reception speeches too.



A beautiful way to honour a deceased loved one is displaying a photo of them. It could be placed on the signing table throughout your ceremony, or somewhere at the reception. This serves as a reminder for you and your guests that whilst not physically present, there is somebody dear to you that is very much a part of the day in other ways.


Photo: Fern & Stone Photography


Reserve them a seat.

Honour your loved one by saving them a seat in the front row at your ceremony. If you’re worried about a guest unknowingly using the seat instead, place an item that represents your loved one. This carefully considered token could be a photo, a flower, a jacket or hat of theirs, an item of significance or simply a note to say that this seat has been reserved.


Photo: Teodora Tinc/Hayley Hickman


Light a candle.

Lighting a candle to remember  your deceased loved one could take place in your ceremony, or at your reception. Having a quiet moment to honour them and reflect is a touching gesture in their memory.


Photo: Fern & Stone Photography


Sentimental songs.

There is no doubt that music evokes emotion, and for some, the passing of a loved one might bring special sentimental value to particular tunes. If there is a song you’d love to include that will either be outwardly acknowledged as a nod to your loved one, or simply for your own reflection, consider adding it to your ceremony playlist.


Photo: Lou Lou Memphis



Wedding speeches can often become another highly emotional moment for a marrying party and their guests. Depending on the circumstances, if you feel appropriate, consider asking a loved one to speak about or on behalf of a loved one. This can be a meaningful way to share with your guests just how much this person means to you, and what their absence on your big day brings.


A toast.

A simple toast can be a beautiful way to honour the life of a deceased loved one. This could take place in speeches or even as part of your wedding ceremony. You may want to accompany it with some words about them or simply mention them by name and toast. In honour of his Grandpa, a family man and publican who was very much missed on his wedding day, groom Joe, had a bar sign made to encourage all guests to take a moment, have a drink and toast a wonderful man.


Photo: Brown Paper Parcel



Have a positive impact by making a donation to a charity in memory of your deceased loved ones. In lieu of favours, Danni and Leigh made a donation to both Cancer Council Victoria and MND Victoria and gave each guest a gold pin and keepsake in honour of Leigh’s late mother Lorraine and Danni’s great uncle Danny. It’s a unique way to thank your wedding guests and comes with great meaning.


Photo: Kyra Boyer


If you need a celebrant to help you navigate honouring your late loved ones in your wedding ceremony, we know some of the best in the business who can work with you and provide advice with compassion and care, get to know them here

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